Roy Sesana wants each settlement to have its own trust
The Basarwa human rights activist, Roy Sesana, together with other Basarwa leaders have struck a deal with the UN Rapporteur, Farida Shaheed who recently visited Botswana recently, to assess the country’s efforts to enhance the rights of all persons to participate in cultural life and to enjoy and access cultural heritage.
In her visit to Botswana, the Special Rapporteur visited several Basarwa settlements including Ghanzi/Dkar, Old Xade, New Xade, Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) among other places of interest and met with Government officials, chiefs, artists, academics and representatives of civil society.
As expected, her meeting with Basarwa was full of fireworks, very emotional, intriguing and fascinating. As she spoke to several Basarwa across the country, Shaheed’s impatience to meet ‘a certain Roy Sesana’ became evident as she frequently shared what she heard and read about him.
They eventually met and had a heart-to-heart-conversation which left the duo appreciating each other‘s views on issues and points of departure. When all was said and done, Sesana and the UN Rapporteur are said to have held a brief informal side meeting in which the UN Rapporteur is said to have offered Basarwa a some advice on life, given her vast experience garnered in the continent and Botswana in her 23 days visit when she was doing her study.
Shaheed, is a sociologist who has worked for more than 25 years promoting and protecting cultural rights by fostering policies and projects designed in culturally sensitive ways to support the rights of marginalised sectors, including women, peasants, religious and ethnic minorities. Ms. Shaheed has received several national and international human rights awards.
WeekendPost sought clarity from Roy Sesana over the subject matter of their meeting to which he replied: “I was been candid to her and she did the same to me.”
Sesana continued to say that: “She said that since Government has banned hunting in the CKGR, we can instead invest on a community trust to better our lives. I shared with her our challenges and past failures to do the same and she said they will be willing to assist us if we are willing to work and liberate ourserlves.”
The Basarwa human rights advocate further revealed that “I have to take her offer serious and engage other leaders so as we can reach a consensus on the matter and tell them what we have decided.” He said Shaheed offered them many new ideas which he will have to share with fellow tribe leaders before divulging to the public.
Basarwa trusts have always been surrounded by controversy but Sesana says Shaheed is offering some great ideas. “I have however made it known to her that we do not wish to have trusts that lump several settlements into one as such are prone to infightings and divisions. Let the people of Metsiamanong have own trust, let the people of Molapo have their own trust, and so forth and so forth,” remarked Sesana, who said he would oppose such a proposal if it comes as he knows its potential to divide his tribe.
Shaheed, in her preliminary observations, said the minority groups are not happy. “In many of the places I visited, I heard the frustration, anger, and fears expressed by people, in particular San, Hambukushu and Wayeyi communities, which stem from the lack of clear information about and understanding of the policies in place and future plans, in particular when it comes to the resolution of human – wildlife conflicts,” said Shaheed.
“The legacy of past violations of human rights in the distant and more recent past need to be acknowledged and addressed if the authorities wish to engage in meaningful consultations with communities for the future,” she said.
“The Central Kalahari Game Reserve has been at the centre of considerable controversy since the Government decided to relocate all people to settlements outside the Reserve,” said Shaheed. Despite a Court ruling confirming the right of the petitioners to return to the Reserve, concerns remain regarding an overly restrictive interpretation of the ruling and the right of offspring to remain on the reserve upon attaining majority at 18 years of age. “I would like the Government to clarify the matter,” the expert said.
The relationship between the communities and the Government has been characterised by mistrust over the past decade with the communities suspecting the Government of harbouring plans to relocate them to give way for wildlife.
Recently, the Government announced plans to stop commercial trophy hunting, which is the mainstay of community trust funds. Communities are granted wildlife quotas which they sell lucratively to safari companies trading in commercial hunting. Government’s intention to stop commercial trophy hunting will affect communities like Sankoyo, Phuduhudu and Xaxa, which are located in the dry areas.
Members of the community trusts have limited capacity to manage and this has resulted in perennial misuse of funds and poor governance of natural resources entrusted to the communities.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.